What are Pepper Sprays and Mace are made of?

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You probably read already that the active ingredient in Pepper sprays and Mace is OC, i.e. Oleoresin Capsicum. What is OC?


OC is a derivative of HOT CAYENNE PEPPERS and is the newest agent in Pepper sprays and Mace. It is not an irritant like the tear gases, but an inflammatory agent. Contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat and lungs) will cause IMMEDIATE dilation of the capillaries of the eyes, resulting in TEMPORARY BLINDNESS and instant inflammation of the breathing tube tissues, cutting off ALL BUT LIFE-SUPPORT BREATHING. OC will not deteriorate with age and unlike the tear gasses, WILL NOT CAUSE LASTING AFTEREFFECTS.

One of the biggest misconceptions about defense spray is that the higher the percentage, the hotter and better it works. In most cases this could not be further from the truth. Most of the best, fastest incapacitating sprays in the world are from 2%-10%. The lighter the fluid, the faster is penetrates the membranes. The percentage has nothing to do with the actual SHU or “hot” in the spray. Also, thicker sprays can inflame the skin area more and last longer with this unnecessary inflammation. A good spray will put the attacker down and out allowing you to escape or take control of the situation.

Because it is an inflammatory, rather than an irritant, OC is effective against all those who feel no pain such as psychotics, drunks and drug abusers. OC has proven itself to be the ABSOLUTE BEST DETERRENT available for attacking dogs and wild animal control. Another major advantage of OC is that it is not volatile and will not emit a lot of fumes like tear gases.

The term OC (oleoresin capsicum) is a horticultural term which refers to chili peppers. There are many different kinds of chili peppers ranging from jalapenos, chiletpin, and cayenne to habaneros. They all have one thing in common. They all contain a substance that is very powerful — an alkaloid called capsaicin (cap-say-a-sin). Just a single drop of tasteless and odorless capsaicin in 100,000 drops of water and the heat can be noticeable. In fact, capsaicin can be detected by humans at one part per ten million!

Capsaicinoids are produced by a gland in the pepper’s placenta, which is the top partition just below the stem. This is also where the seeds are attached. The placenta is about 16 times stronger than any other part of the plant, any OC spray worth its salt will use its active ingredient made from this part.

Back in 1912, a pharmacologist named Wilbur Scoville came up with the standard for measuring the power of capsaicin. Called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, it was needed to calculate the temperature of peppers used in many pharmaceutical products of the time (such as “Heet” which was used for the relief of sore muscles, arthritis pain and muscular sprains). Scoville measured the ground pepper into a mixture of sugar, water and alcohol. Then, a panel of five tasters sipped the mixture and gave it a grade; it took a majority of three to assign a value.

Today, the value is established through high technology, a computerized method called high-performance liquid chromatography. The pepper scale ranges from zero Scoville unit for a bell pepper to 5,000 or so for a jalapeno to a whopping 200,000 – 300,000 for a habanero! Pure capsaicin is 15,000,000. The oleoresin capsicum used in a superior pepper spray formula is derived from the hottest peppers and further processed and refined until the heat rating is 5,300,000 (5.3 million!).

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